Monday, September 4, 2017

Process Notes

I was thinking of asking my students to journal about the process of writing one of their poems later in the semester. So I ask it of myself now with a recent poem titled (at this point) "I Never Dreamt of Trees." It began with trying to recreate in words the physical sensation of dropping off to sleep as I sat in a chair. Not my eyes heavy but my head. There was such a pull. And the sensation so vivid.

So I had the notion and I kept clinging to that notion/image while looping around it as if it were a maypole. (driving in my car, driving in my car) Little half sentences and repetitive bits remembered and written down. First writing in the back pages of my general notebook, sometimes up the side of the page.

Then the words being slid around and fastened into couplets--this time on google drive so I can access this poem start anywhere. Where do the lines end? Considering the line breaks makes me lop off a few words.

I go back to my original notes and realize I've left out "stickiness," "the stickiness of dreams," but really it's there in other words  (but sticky is such a good word). I wonder if I have gotten in this idea that the things I dream of are not from nature. I wonder if the poem which feels meditative/observational wants to go somewhere (and it should). Picking up toys I remember that I wanted to have something about Chinese handcuffs in there.

I think I am realizing that this poem is not yet done (I don't want to read it right now). Last night when I dreamt I realized there is a much better sense of surround in the dream than I was thinking. Maybe that's the part you forget first when you wake up. Background goes, then the not-really narrative.

Friday, January 6, 2017

What Keyser Soze Has to do with My Most Recent Poem (and Googling)

It was my lunch hour. I had a little time, a little space, a great deal of quiet. I was trying to write a poem but nothing would come. It felt like floating in a sea of corks. No fluidity. Lots of blunted mental buffeting.

Finally, I decided to Keyser Soze the second half of the poem. I turned to my bulletin board and picked off random pieces of language to move things along. Some of the language I chose: astra, full cold moon, onion sets. Also, from stuff I'd seen on the internet that morning, the idea of winter, the idea of the northern lights.

At different times this week I was dib-dabbing at two separate poems. Here are some of the things I googled in the course of composition:
--mukluk--spelling and manufacture
--counterpane--is this word obsolete?
--clog dance--and its ties to the industrial revolution (who knew!)
--astra--word origins
--macron--exact definition
--musical saw on youtube--what do they sound like? first song was "Ave Maria"
--saucers of milk for the fairies ("green jacket, red cap/ and white owl's feather!")
--bank as in river bank or bank at the side of the road--looking for definitions and synonyms

My sister googled:
--deadly nightshade again (paralysis)
--girl's names beginning with "L"
--Slovak for "be quiet"

Googling is terrific for quick (and sometimes unexpected) facts and connections, but I miss the pages of my old dictionary, my old Roget, the massive OED.